Monday, October 9, 2006

Getting Out of Our Ditch

by Phil Ware


Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. (Ephesians 4:1 NLT Ed. 1).

Two weeks ago, instead of focusing on the horrific news of two school shootings which occurred in the same week,* the national media spent hours focusing on the Terrell Owens overdose, or whatever that was.  Mental health and drug overdose issues are matters of real concern.  However, the issue of gun violence in schools, especially with the loss of life, strike at the core of many parents’ fears when they send their children off to school or out in public in general.

Unfortunately, a particularly warped someone appears to have paid very close attention to what happened in those shootings. No one can be sure the previous shootings triggered the time bomb in the twisted head and heart of the man — whose name will be intentionally left unmentioned — who terrorized and murdered young Amish girls in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania.   However, some "experts" think it did contribute to triggering his actions. His act of brutal and sadistic violence, couched as revenge and as the emotional thrashings of a man who could not cope with his own losses, horrified us all.   Thankfully, and I say this with as deep a sarcasm as I can muster in print, there were no high profile athletes or movie stars with ingrown toenails, bad driving events with their babies in their cars, or political bones to pick this week. Otherwise, the Nickel Mines tragedy might have ended up on page 2!

We have become a celebrity-obsessed culture. Character, virtue, and value have completely given way to bling, to image, to street cred, and to personality cultism. Maybe our fascination with the glitzy and the glamorous has always been an obsession. Yet somehow, as we tend to creep toward lives of hyper-reality** rather than authenticity, we seem consumed with a covetous voyeurism toward the rich, the beautiful, the famous, the movie star chic, and the athletic. Life is not even lived on the fringes; it is now lived on the rumor, the potential publicity, and the glitz of the pseudo-world of stardom.

So what do we do? What can we do? Or should we even care?

We must care! When an athlete’s overdose gains more attention and focus than the murder of a sixteen year old student gunned down by her fellow classmate or principal’s murder by a student, something deep within us has seriously broken. I fear our cultural sense of value is as twisted as the gunman who terrorized those young Amish schoolgirls.

We must awaken and realize that the show on Sunday isn’t God’s goal for us. Instead, it must be the motivation for us to be the people of God who daily live redemptive lives in our communities as the recognizable aroma of Jesus. (I’m not bashing relevant and cutting communication and worship, but if we continue the long-time Western trend of going to church as our Christian focus, our impact on our world will continue to be insensitive political rhetoric and not Jesus’ work of human redemption.) To put it in cornbread English, it’s time to get our church-going backsides off the pews and get our hands dirty doing the work of grace.

We can care! As Jesus seekers, everyday folks committed to carry on the life of Jesus in the world, we can and must serve our communities. There are a jillion ways from volunteering as foster parents, being a Big Brother or Big Sister, working with Meals on Wheels, volunteering as a school tutor, visiting people in the hospital, finding needy people and anonymously supplying them with groceries some time other than Christmas or Thanksgiving, and on and on we can go.

So ... let’s quit whining about our culture “going to hell in a hand basket” and get busy lending our warped world a hand that helps and doesn’t harangue! Anything less is simply do worth our time or worthy of our calling.

So here’s the deal. I’m interested in what you think about this.

Do you believe we’ve lost our way in this cult of the personality obsession?

What’s something you can do to help bless your community and begin to make a difference:

I'd love to hear what you think on my blog:



*I’m referring to the September 26 shooting in Bailey, Colorado, and the September 29 shooting in Cazenovia, Wisconsin. A sixteen year old young woman and a school principal lost their lives in these two shootings as well as one of the shooters.


**Hyper-reality is a term used to refer to the preference some people have for the artificial worlds of the Internet, media based games, and cyber communities where life is lived outside genuine, personal, face-to-face contact with people we know.

Posted: 10/09/2006


(c) 2006 Phil Ware <>. All rights reserved.


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